Basketball Freshmen Following: Week Nine
During Christmas break, there are over 42 different bowl games to watch. Penn State’s football team fell in an epic Rose Bowl, however the men’s basketball team had some more success while students were away from campus.
Starting off with a dominating performance against St. John’s, Penn State rolled to a 92-76 game where the offense seemed to finally click together. Against Morgan State the Nittany Lions continued the high scoring trend with a 96-55 victory. The next time out Penn State fell to the Northwestern Wildcats 87-77, before returning to the win column against Rutgers, beating the Scarlet Knights 60-47. The Lions jumped out to an early lead against Michigan and lead by as much as 15 in the second half before falling apart down the stretch, losing 72-69. Next Penn State took on annual powerhouse Michigan State in the famous Palestra in Philadelphia. Surprisingly, Penn State seemed to own the game right from tip-off, outplaying the Spartans and winning 72-63. The freshmen continued to show flashes of their extraordinary promise but also continue to make bad mistakes.
Mike Watkins dominated the paint against St. John’s, finishing with a powerful double-double. He also swatted three blocks and had an impressive four assists. Watkins also had three blocks against Morgan State in a game he played limited minutes. He finished with 10 points and eight rebounds in a game where the final outcome was never in doubt.
Against Northwestern Watkins did not put up as many points as fans have become accustomed to seeing, but still was able to grab eight rebounds and pick up three blocks. Going into the game against Rutgers, Watkins was struggling with an illness so he did not start and finished with only five points, but still managed eight rebounds in a game where he played very few minutes. The story was the same against Michigan with Watkins coming off the bench he scored nine points and had nine rebounds.
However, against Michigan State it was clear Watkins was feeling healthy again. Even though he battled foul trouble, he still grabbed nine rebounds and finished with 11 points. Watkins is clearly still developing as a scoring threat down low, but his shot blocking presence and rebounding ability is something that cannot be overlooked.
Tony Carr played an outstanding 36 minutes against St. John’s and played well, scoring 13 points along with six assists. He has struggled recently with turnovers and in this game he had four.
Against Morgan State, Carr actually led the team in rebounding and finished with a double-double with 10 boards and 11 points in the easy win. Carr played a good game against Northwestern scoring 15 points with seven rebounds and three assists.
Penn State had no trouble against Rutgers and Carr finished with 15 points and seven rebounds. However, against Michigan Carr struggled, scoring five points and only five rebounds. He also had three turnovers and forced multiple shots down the stretch. But
In his home city of Philadelphia, Carr rebounded. Against Michigan State, he scored 14 points, had five rebounds, and three assists. It is clear that when Tony Carr plays well, the Nittany Lions have a far better chance of succeeding.
Lamar Stevens continues to develop into one of the more consistent scorers for the Nittany Lions. He possesses a strong drive to the hoop and an above average mid-range jump shot.
He was not a huge factor against St. John’s, picking up nine points and four rebounds, but was a large factor in the blowout against Morgan State. He led the team with 20 points, none coming from 3-point range.
He dropped back to about his average against Northwestern with 12 points and four rebounds. Against Rutgers, he once again took a back seat scoring only eight points. Against Michigan, Stevens played well leading the Nittany Lions in both scoring with 16 and rebounds with nine.
When Stevens returned to Philadelphia to battle Michigan State, he played like he was right at home once again leading the Nittany Lions in scoring with 18. Stevens was also tasked with guarding Michigan State’s big men when Watkins got into foul trouble and played exceptional, especially on offense during this stretch. He used his quickness to drive past the bigger defenders, scoring multiple buckets towards the end of the first half.
The freshmen continue to be a vital part of Penn State’s team. While there are still some growing pains, each is developing a clear role on the team. When they do not play well, the results are often reflected on the scoreboard.
If the freshmen can limit the mistakes, Penn State could make a strong run in Big Ten play and knock off many traditional power houses.
Brian McLaughlin is a freshman majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org